UNT Theses and Dissertations - 175 Matching Results

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Academic Progress Scores to Predict Performance on a State Assessment

Description: This quantitative study examined seventh-grade reading scores to determine the extent to which certain demographic variables (race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status) explain and MAP reading scores predict reading scores on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in a selected northeast Texas public school. Standardized assessments only compare the relative performance of an individual student to other groups of students using scaled scores, which can vary from year to year and from state to state. With the advent of computer adaptive testing, this study provides information on the predictive validity of benchmark assessments. Specifically, this study looked for predictive evidence that indicates how accurately test data can predict criterion scores. Findings revealed, through a multiple regression analysis, that the fall MAP Rasch Unit (RIT) scores predicted the STAAR scale scores. Using SPSS version 22, the data were entered and analyzed in a multiple regression model to determine the presence of a statistical trend or lack thereof. Demographic data and MAP scores were entered into the regression model to examine the predictive validity of the MAP assessment in determining student performance on the STAAR seventh-grade state-mandated reading assessment. The statistical analysis revealed that MAP RIT scores explain a significant variance related to seventh-grade STAAR reading scale scores. There is a vital need for tools that improve a student's academic development and MAP assessments have been found to predict performance on state-mandated assessments.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Curry, David Mitchell
Partner: UNT Libraries

Academic Reading Online: Digital Reading Strategies of Graduate-level English Language Learners

Description: English language learners (ELLs) face many linguistic and cultural challenges in their attempts to succeed academically. They encounter complex academic text, which is increasingly presented online. Although some research has addressed the challenges that university-level ELLs face when reading online texts, almost all of this prior work has focused on undergraduates. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the reading strategies employed by graduate-level ELLs when reading an academic English text online. Participating in the study were four foreign-born doctoral students from different first-language backgrounds—Arabic, Korean, Urdu, and Vietnamese—and the focus was on commonalities as well as differences among them. All four were enrolled in the same doctoral-level course, which included the reading of a specific online academic article as a course requirement. When reading this text individually, each student participated in a think-aloud procedure, followed by post-reading and discourse-based interviews. Analyses included unitizing data from the think-aloud protocols, coding units for strategies employed, and considering related interview commentary and classroom contributions. In their reading, these students made major use of problem-solving strategies, especially reading segments aloud and questioning. They also employed evaluative strategies as well as metacognitive strategies, which included affirming their understanding or indicating lack of understanding. With respect to global strategies, all made use of the article’s abstract and used the cursor to scroll forward to preview the article. In contrast to previous research with undergraduates, these students made little use of support strategies that involved translation websites. Instead, their major support strategies were navigating to web-based tools, particularly online encyclopedias in English. Despite prior theory and research suggesting the importance of sociorhetorical strategies in academic reading, only one student directed much attention to the authors of the article and to authorial intent. Although all four participants were students in the same doctoral course and ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Knezek, Lois Ann
Partner: UNT Libraries

Accomplished Teachers' Instructional Decisions About Shakespeare

Description: Teachers' decisions are a powerful influence on student learning and it is important to fully document accomplished teachers' instructional decisions, as well as to investigate possible influences on those decisions. Shakespearean dramas are central to high school curricula across the U.S. and pose particular instructional challenges, therefore teachers' decisions about teaching these texts are of particular interest. There is limited empirical research, however, about these instructional decisions. Thus, the purpose of this study was to describe how four accomplished high school English teachers working on a single campus make instructional decisions about teaching a Shakespearean play. Specifically, research questions addressed teachers' decisions regarding the teaching of a Shakespearean play and various influences on those decisions (self-reports and inferences from the data). Case study methodology was used, including an inductive analysis of individual teacher interviews, classroom observations, focus group, instructional artifacts, and researcher's journal. The findings revealed that instructional activities described by these teachers addressed support for meaning-making during four stages of reading instruction: (a) before, during, and after; (b) before; (c) during; and (d) after. Comparison of these cases suggests that, although each teacher brings personal preferences and unique background knowledge to her instructional decisions, all make decisions to promote student engagement and student construction of meaning. Regarding influences on these teachers' decisions about teaching the Shakespearean play, four categories were identified: (a) response to students; (b) aspects of the text; (c) response to contextual constraints and supports; and (d) personal preferences and background experiences. Individual teacher differences are clearly a strong influence, even among this group of colleagues on the same campus. Also, two influences not reported explicitly by the teachers suggest a complex integration of these influences. One is their intuitive thinking, which deserves a closer investigation in future research. The other proposes that each teacher's decisions are ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Parris, Sheri Rene’
Partner: UNT Libraries

Accountability in Schools: a Study of High School Accountability Ratings and College Success

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between high school campus accountability ratings, college readiness indicators, and the percent of students who achieved first year college success. Correlation and multiple regression analyses were used to analyze the relationship between the variables. Data was analyzed for two-year and four-year postsecondary educational institutions which were divided by eight school district types. Regression analysis of the relationship between high school campus accountability ratings and the percent of students who achieved first year college success for four- year post secondary educational institutions revealed statistically significant results ranging from R2 =.179 to R2 = .220. Similar results were found for two-year post secondary educational institutions with statistically significant results ranging from R2 = .049 to R2 = .218. The results indicated negligible to small relationships between the variables. Regression results of the analysis for the relationship between college readiness indicators and the percent of students who achieved first year college success revealed statistically significant results for 2 - year post secondary educational institutions ranging from R2 = .077 to R2 = .596 and for 4 -year post secondary educational institutions ranging from R2 = .048 to R2 = .304. These results indicated small to moderate relationships between college readiness indicators and the percent of students who achieve first year college success.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Orsborn, Shannon
Partner: UNT Libraries

Accreditation Facilitation Projects: Supporting High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care

Description: High-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) are linked to positive developmental outcomes for children. Systems have been created to define, measure and promote high-quality ECEC. National accreditation status is deemed the gold standard of a high-quality program, yet many centers are unable to achieve this without assistance. With the help of Accreditation Facilitation Projects (AFPs), many low-income centers are able to achieve accreditation. Centers collaborating with an AFP reap many benefits including financial support, ongoing training and mentoring, and guidance through the accreditation process. AFPs invest greatly in the centers they collaborate with and the longer the center takes to achieve accreditation, the more resources an AFP must expend. The purposes of this study were to understand if the educational level of center director, the total enrollment of a center, or the percentage of children receiving government subsidies could predict the time it takes for a center to complete the accreditation process while receiving assistance from an AFP, and to determine if there are differences in attitudes about program accreditation between center directors and early learning specialists who serve as accreditation mentors to the directors. Findings revealed that a) the higher educational level of program directors is associated with a quicker time to program accreditation, b) both the total enrollment of the center and the percentage of children receiving government subsidies do not predict time to accreditation, c) the number of total staff in a center is associated with a quicker time to accreditation, and d) there is no significant difference between the directors' attitudes and early learning specialists' attitudes toward accreditation and accreditation facilitation projects. AFPs looking to streamline their accreditation process and provide accountability to their stakeholders regarding their investments over time can use these findings to choose to collaborate with centers that have directors who have ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Reinke, Stephanie L.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Actions Taken by Texas School Districts to Prevent Fraud

Description: This research is a descriptive analysis answering the question, what measures are currently taken by the leadership―boards of trustees and superintendents of schools―of Texas school districts to prevent embezzlement? The research perspective utilized was quantitative with a descriptive, cross-sectional design. Data collection was accomplished through a survey with questions constructed from the most commonly recommended strategies discovered through the review of literature. The survey was distributed to the 1031 superintendents of school districts in Texas via email. The response rate was 33% or 339 returned surveys. The data set created concentrates on the four most common preventive measures: policy and procedure, management, auditing, and ethics. These measures are considered as they function to interrupt the principles of the fraud triangle. Comparisons were completed regarding region, district size, superintendent tenure and superintendent experience. Policy adoption was found to be extremely widespread. Procedures written to fully implement policy were less prevalent. Review of management practices found problems concerning credit cards, personnel evaluations, and password access to multiple computer finance recordkeeping systems concentrated in one employee. External auditing programs were universal due to statutory mandate but internal auditors and internal audit committees were few. Ethics training for business office personnel existed but with little consistent application across districts. The adoption of a code of ethics for business office personnel was rare. Recommendations made were that school leaders should be educated concerning appropriate actions in the common prevention areas. They need an to understand the importance of internal auditing, know the language in local policy, and they need to write procedures.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Taylor, Gordon Douglas
Partner: UNT Libraries

Adequacy and Equity: How the Texas Supreme Court's Perceptions Have Changed Over the Past 50 Years

Description: The purpose of this study identifies state court cases involving public school finance specifically related to adequacy and equity in funding. Results address how state court cases have challenged the constitutionality of school finance in the United States, including Texas, over the last 50 years. The study further shows how the decisions from previous cases have influenced the Supreme Court of Texas decision in the Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness litigation.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Ford, Daniel William
Partner: UNT Libraries

Analysis of Factors for Successful State-Level Support of Low-Performing Schools

Description: This study provides a qualitative look at Texas' Professional Service Providers' (PSPs) strategies for supporting low-performing schools. Four PSPs were selected for participation based on the number of schools they helped exit the Texas Title I School Improvement Program from 2007-2012. Data collected and analyzed included provider and principal interviews, providers' progress reports documenting services, and principals' evaluations of provider services. Results indicated key support strategies in two of four cases were supporting and mentoring/coaching while communicating and building trust were important in the other two cases. Communicating, reviewing information, and planning were important across all cases. The quality indicators aligning with the PSPs' strategies were fit, comprehensiveness, and coherence. They were also the most common across all cases. Finally, analysis of the evaluation of provider services revealed PSP-1 with the highest ratings, followed by PSP-2, PSP-3, and PSP-4 respectively. The findings suggest, first, that PSP support has a dual nature. Contextual support was provided based on the campus leaderships' skills and requests. PSPs also ensured coherence among the strategies of all stakeholders. Secondly, a hierarchy of quality service indicators aligned to the PSPs' strategies: fit, comprehensiveness, and coherence. Finally relationships are vital to a successful provider-campus relationship. The findings have implications for PSP selection, professional development, and evaluation.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Ewing, Angela R.
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Analysis of Litigation against Kansas Educators and School Districts under the Kansas Tort Claims Act

Description: This dissertation examines the significance of the Kansas Tort Claims Act of 1979 on state of Kansas court decisions in litigation against Kansas school districts and their employees. Through providing a historical perspective of the adoption and abolishment of the doctrine of sovereign immunity in the United States, which subsequently led to the enactment of the Federal Tort Claims Act, and ultimately led to the Kansas Tort Claims Act, the researcher analyzes pertinent case law and scholarly commentary pertaining to school negligence litigation. The goal of the analysis is to answer the following research question: How have Kansas state courts interpreted the Kansas Tort Claims Act in litigation against state school districts and their employees? Although the KTCA provides citizens with a vehicle for redress against governmental entities by virtue of tort claims, the KTCA also provides immunities from liability for governmental entities and their employees under exceptions to the KTCA. Most notably, the discretionary function exception and the recreational use exception are two exceptions to liability applied in a significant number of tort cases against Kansas school districts and employees. The case law analysis provides explanations for the types of actions of negligence that Kansas courts have qualified for school district or school employee liability, and, when permitted, negligent actions that qualified for immunity under a KTCA exception to liability.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Perry, Shaun Patrick
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Analysis of Performance Differences Between Self-Directed and Teacher-Directed Alternative Education Campuses in Texas

Description: This study was conducted to analyze the performance differences between alternative education campuses in Texas that used teacher-directed strategies and those that used self-directed strategies. The study was also conducted to inform educators of the results these two strategies had achieved with at-risk students during the three years of 2006-2008. The study used the results from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test as reported in the AEIS annual reports from the Texas Education Agency. Alternative education schools were grouped according to the strategy used to educate at-risk students. The results of the statistical tests showed the two strategies had similar performance results and there was no statistical difference between the two. The results offered several implications concerning the ability of at-risk students to achieve in alternative education schools including possible reasons why students who were previously unsuccessful became successful in alternative settings. The report also addressed the number of students who continued to be unsuccessful even when placed on an alternative education campus. Possible reasons for this continued inability to succeed are discussed. Recommendations for further research were listed at the conclusion of the study.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Wimberley, Alan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Analysis of Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Decisions Regarding Superintendent, Associate Superintendent, School Administrator, Athletic Director and Central Office Administrator Term Contract Nonrenewal Appeals From 1983 to 2013

Description: I conducted a legal analysis of decisions by Texas Commissioners of Education in appeals by Texas school administrators from nonrenewal decisions made by Texas school districts from 1983 to 2013. I analyzed the findings of fact and conclusions of law described in the commissioners’ rulings to determine the legal basis of school districts’ decisions to nonrenew school administrators’ term employment contracts. I also examined the legal rationale for commissioners’ rulings and determined which party most commonly prevailed in these administrative proceedings—the respondent school district or the petitioner school administrator. In particular, the study determined factors that contributed to commissioners’ decisions to overrule or support school districts’ nonrenewal decisions. A careful review of commissioner decisions, which are accessible on the Texas Education Association website, identified 44 commissioner decisions involving appeals by superintendents, associate superintendents, public school administrators, athletic directors, or central office administrators concerning school districts’ term contract nonrenewal decisions from 1983 to 2013. Commissioners’ decisions in these cases were surveyed using legal research methods. This study provides recommendations to assist local education agencies to refine current policies and regulations regarding the nonrenewal of administrators’ term contracts, and provides insight on Texas Commissioners’ rulings on term contract nonrenewal appeals brought by Texas school administrators. The findings revealed that school boards’ lack of understanding of local policies and lack of evidence resulted in commissioners granting 27% of appeals. Additionally, commissioners denied 73% of the appeals because school boards provided at least one reason that met the substantial evidence standard of review, and respondents failed to substantiate allegations or enter evidence in evidentiary hearings.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Ramirez, Carlos
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Analysis of the Leadership Competency Frameworks of Nontraditional Principal Preparation Programs

Description: This study explored the competency frameworks of nontraditional principal preparation programs to determine how they aligned to research-based best practices for school leaders. The research questions that guided this work were: To what degree are the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities addressed in the competency frameworks of nontraditional principal preparation programs? How do the leaders of the nontraditional principal preparation programs view the degree to which their competencies include the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities? A multi-case study analysis was conducted that compared the competency frameworks of four nontraditional principal preparation programs. The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), New Leaders, New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA), and Teaching Trust were the nontraditional programs selected for this study. Leaders from the four organizations were interviewed. The findings from the research illustrated that a majority of the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities were included in the competency frameworks of nontraditional principal preparation programs. The study revealed that four of the McREL 21 were not included in any of the competency frameworks. Another finding was the lack of focus on talent management and personal dispositions in the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities. Nontraditional principal preparation programs are a growing avenue for principal preparation, as such their use of research on principal success was promising
Date: May 2016
Creator: Horton, Tonya Marie
Partner: UNT Libraries

Anti-bullying Policies And Practices In Texas Middle Schools

Description: For over a decade national attention to bullying in American schools has increased, fueled by publicity about suicides of severely bullied youth. Schools have the charge of maintaining the safety of all students in order to ensure a positive learning environment, but there is little information about what they are doing to prevent bullying. The purpose of this study was to provide information on principals’ perceptions of bullying and what anti-bullying policies, procedures, and programs exist in Texas middle schools. Ninety-nine principals completed an online questionnaire that addressed: 1) their knowledge of district and campus policies concerning bullying; 2) their direct experience with bullying; and, 3) bullying-prevention strategies and training in place in their schools. Principals reported direct experience with all types of bullying included on the questionnaire in their schools, but had a surprisingly small mean of 14.8 verified bullying incidents during the 2010-2011 year. Over 60% felt the level of physical safety in their school was good or very good, but only 35% rated their school’s emotional safety as good or very good. Students, parents, and teachers reported bullying to the majority of principals; however, few schools conducted annual student surveys that could provide accurate information about bullying in their schools. Procedures required by state law were more likely to be in place than those not required, though not all schools complied with all requirements. Fewer than 10% of schools had implemented a formal anti-bullying program. The most commonly cited obstacles to effectively addressing bullying were lack of time to conduct investigations and getting parents to file written reports (40%); however, despite having anti-bullying training, 27% felt limited by the lack of strategies. This study fills a void in the literature by providing a statewide overview of middle school principals’ knowledge of district and campus policies and procedures ...
Date: December 2011
Creator: Robbins, Rosemary
Partner: UNT Libraries

Artistic Decision Making and Implications for Engaging Theatrically Gifted and Talented Students in Non-Arts Classes

Description: This cognitive ethnographic study explored the mental processes that professional actors used when making artistic choices while engaged in creative practices to begin a conversation about how the theatrically gifted and talented population is viewed, researched, and educated in non-arts subjects. Professional actors at two sites were observed, videotaped, and interviewed over several rehearsals during play production. The major thematic findings indicated that artistic decision making results from actors engaging in a cyclical process of private work, affective validation, and collaboration. Implications for teaching theatrically gifted students call for classroom environments and processes that echo theatrical rehearsal structures, while engaging the imagination through personal connection and discovery.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Willerson, Amy
Partner: UNT Libraries

Becoming Successful in Education: Beating the Odds, Despite a Background Entrenched in Poverty

Description: The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of three relationships on academic achievement in mathematics in students of poverty. The three factors that were examined included: teacher-student relationships, parent-student relationships and peer- student relationships. The driving question for the research was as follows: Do external factors such as teacher-student relationships, parent-student relationships and peer-student relationships lead to academic success for students of poverty? The study employed a non-experimental, quantitative approach and utilized longitudinal data from a national database High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS) used a sample of 944 public and private high schools across the USA. A total 0f 28,240 were represented in the survey. Of these 28,240 students, 2641 were used in this study as identified by parental income below the poverty threshold. The outcome of the study indicated that there was little or no correlation between the three relationships and mathematics achievement (academic success). Correlations between the dependent variable (math achievement) and the independent variables even though some were statistically significant their weights had no concrete significance. The study recommends that several initiatives can be instated in schools to support and enhance academic achievement in students of poverty.
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Date: May 2017
Creator: Thompson, Pauline A
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Beliefs and Expectations of Effective Secondary Choral Teachers in Culturally Diverse Schools

Description: Through the years, educational theorists and researchers have been interested in a possible relationship between teachers' effectiveness and their beliefs and expectations. Three concepts underpinned this work: teacher effectiveness, cultural diversity, and teachers' beliefs and expectations. The premise of the study was that the beliefs and expectations of effective secondary choral teachers are related to the social-cultural contexts in which they teach. The study implemented critical discourse analysis as the theoretical framework and the in-depth phenomenological long interview for data collection. Three secondary choral teachers were selected to participate in the study based on the researcher's criteria. The study revealed how each teacher conceptualized student cultural diversity during the teaching experience. Teacher beliefs about effective teaching in culturally diverse settings were described as developing over time in phases along a continuum. The study also confirmed that teachers' beliefs about students can be changed through experiences and reflection. The study revealed effective teachers focused on three different types of expectations in the teaching and learning context and affirmed diverse cultural identities and backgrounds. Recommendations included the development of stronger mentorship programs to increase effective teaching strategies for the secondary choral classroom. The findings of this study support my previous work, which introduces a sequential learning framework for teaching music in culturally diverse schools.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Spradley, Mackie V.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Beliefs of Mathematics Pre-service Teachers About Project-based Learning

Description: This study explored the beliefs of pre-service secondary mathematics teachers about project-based learning (PBL), as they encountered a project-based learning high school where they implemented a project-based unit of instruction. A qualitative study was conducted with one undergraduate cohort in a higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) national initiative that has 40 U.S. replication sites. Using teaching philosophy statements and focus group discussions, the beliefs of STEM pre-service secondary teachers are made visible. The findings from this study reveal a recurring theme: the process of how these pre-service teachers seemed to evolve and mature as teachers, from novice toward becoming an expert, as they asked themselves internal questions that are common to developing teachers. These pre-service STEM teachers experienced 1) internal questions about their own growth as a potential teacher, as evidenced through their verbal and written statements; 2) tension between PBL content and pedagogy; and 3) tension between practice and theory. The findings also infer that there are potential critical variables that may contribute to pre-service teachers’ beliefs. Those variables identified were the following: 1) the sequence of when the project-based instruction (PBI) course was taken; 2) time, as related to when the participant took the PBI course in relationship to the final semester when they were engaged in apprentice teaching; and 3) the field placement location during the apprentice teaching semester.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Watson, Cindy Gay
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Case Study of 1:1 Technology Policies in Four Texas High Schools and Their Relationship to Practice

Description: With increasing emphasis on technology in schools, the importance of technology policies is great. This study investigated policies for four 1:1 secondary schools in Texas (schools with a ratio of one computing device per student), particularly with respect to the relationship of those policies to practice. The purpose of the study was to determine the current status of the National Education Technology Standards (NETS) essential conditions as reflected in policy and the relationship of those conditions to practice as measured through levels of technology usage and teaching innovation. Schools were selected through purposive, criterion sampling. Open-ended interviews were conducted with twelve participants (principals, technology directors, and superintendents). Policies were rated by campus principals and the researcher using a rubric based on the NETS essential conditions. Finally, surveys of proficiency and readiness measures were collected from 156 teachers using the School Technology and Readiness (STaR) instrument and the Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTI) instrument. Interviews were transcribed and coded using structural and frequency coding. Policies were analyzed using magnitude coding and policy ratings. A qualitative analysis determined patterns between policy and practice. Quantitative data collected from surveys were measured against policy ratings and magnitude coding using bivariate correlation methods in SPSS. Quantitative analysis revealed two statistically significant relationships between policy and reported levels of practice in the classroom. Qualitative elements of the study from interviews and policy ratings revealed six findings that may explain a lack of correlation between policy and practice: a lack of ability for leadership to identify 1:1 program policy; lack among school leaders of perceived relationship between policy and practice; a belief among leaders that they are communicating policy to stakeholders even though they demonstrated difficulty in articulating policy; an inability to identify specific research-based theoretical foundations in policy; a lack of meaningful measurement of practices; and ...
Date: December 2013
Creator: Bauter, Cynthia
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Case Study of an Urban Charter School’s Journey of School Improvement: Organizational Theory, Institutional Learning and School Reform

Description: The problem for this study was the need to increase and maintain in student achievement in charter schools. The purpose of this single-case study was to discover how an inner city charter school with a high percentage of at-risk students increased overall student achievement and attained acceptable performance status when faced simultaneously with administrative challenges and increases in state and federal standards. The participants for the single-case study included the school district’s superintendent, the high school principal, the dean of students, four faculty of the district, and one outside consultant appointed to work with the district by the state of Texas. The sampling for this study allowed for the opportunity to study in greater depth the choice of reform strategies and organizational structure designed to result in increased student achievement and student success over the course of two years. Since this was a single-case study of one charter school district, participants were referenced by the role in which they served. All district, campus, and participant names remained anonymous. The results showed the increased student achievement was made possible by several reform strategies and best practices. The primary reform strategies and best practices that had the greatest impact were consistent campus leadership and parent and community involvement with the campus. Mission and focus were secondary strategies that contributed to increasing teacher effectiveness and student achievement. All of the interviewees stated their work was “all about the kids” to support the theme of the common mission and focus the campus and district.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Subjinski, Amanda
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Case Study of the Impact of the Middle School Data Coach on Teacher Use of Educational Test Data to Change Instruction

Description: With the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in 2002 and its attendant increases in accountability pressure, many districts and schools currently embrace data analysis as an essential part of the instructional decision making process. In their attempts to overcome low achievement on state-mandated tests, some districts have begun employing data coaches. The study reported here, which was set in three middle schools in a northeast Texas school district, assessed the influence of the campus data coach on a middle school mathematics teachers' use of analyzed data to make instructional decisions. It also examined the extent to which the Data Coach/teacher relationship resolved teacher concerns about data-driven decision making. Phenomenological interviews with data coaches were guided by Seidman's (2006) three-series interview. Measurement of teacher use of data to make decisions was based on the concerns-based adoption model's levels of use interview protocol, stages of concern questionnaire, and innovation configuration map. By the end of one school year, two out of the three teachers never used data to make instructional decisions, although the non-users both had moved closer toward employing the innovation in their classroom. Data indicated all teachers were aware of the innovation, but all three ended the study with high personal concerns, signifying that the minimal efforts made by the data coaches to resolve concerns were not successful. This study's small sample gave the research paradigm of data-based decision making an in-depth glimpse into the process of implementing data-based instructional decision making and the Data Coach position on three middle school campuses in one large northeast Texas district.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Hill, Rachelle Phelps
Partner: UNT Libraries

Central Office Administrators' Perceptions of the Professional Learning Community Process

Description: This study provides a qualitative interpretation of the work done by central office administrators in a school district in Texas as they supported and built capacity for the professional learning community (PLC) process over a five year time period. Literature by PLC scholars, especially R. DuFour, R.B. DuFour, Eaker, Hord, Hipp, Huffman, and Olivier, informed development of the study. In a school district of 19,000 students and 2,000 staff members, ten central office administrators were interviewed to gain their perceptions of their roles in the PLC process. Interviews were analyzed through the processes of initial, focused, and theoretical coding. Documents were examined and used as supplemental sources of data to corroborate the perspectives provided. Findings revealed the story of central office administrators who worked interdependently to support and build capacity in the implementation and sustainment of the PLC process. A thick description of the work based on their perceptions offers actions and behaviors of administrators specific to their roles and practices and protocols developed to hold the work together. A grounded theory was developed with regard to central office administrators' support and capacity-building for the PLC process. From the administrators' perceptions, six theoretical categories relating to central office support and capacity building of the PLC process emerged: 1) establishment, 2) deployment, 3) accountability for implementation, 4) adult learning, 5) collaboration, and 6) leadership development. The study contributes an interpretivist description of the involvement of central office in the PLC process and confirms the importance of the change process in the implementation of the PLC framework.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Pruitt, Mary E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Characteristics of a Community of Practice in a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute

Description: This qualitative naturalistic descriptive case study provides an understanding of the characteristics of a community of practice within a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute. This study utilized naturalistic, descriptive case study methodology to answer the research question: What characteristics of a community of practice are revealed by the perceptions and experiences of the fellows of a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute? Data were gathered in the form of interviews, focus group, observations, field notes, and participant reflective pieces. Peer debriefing, triangulation, thick rich description, as well as member checking served to establish credibility and trustworthiness in the study. Bracketing, a phenomenological process of reflecting on one's own experiences of the phenomenon under investigation was utilized as well. The findings of this study point to five analytic themes. These themes, ownership and autonomy, asset-based environment, relationships, socially constructed knowledge and practices, and experiential learning, intertwine to illuminate the three essential components which must be present for a community of practice to exist: joint enterprise, mutual engagement, and shared repertoire. Participants' portraits provide a description of their unique experiences as they moved fluidly between the periphery and core of the community of practice.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Pearce, Terisa Ronette
Partner: UNT Libraries

Children with Autism in Taiwan and the United States: Parental Stress, Parent-child Relationships, and the Reliability of a Child Development Inventory

Description: Autism is one of the fastest growing childhood disorders in the world, and the families that have children with autism experience frustration and stress due to many practical problems. with the increase in the prevalence of autism, it is urgent to raise awareness of autism and to provide services and support for children with autism and their parents to improve the parent-child relationship and moderate the parental stress. with regard to families with children diagnosed as autistic, the purposes of this study are to: (a) examine the group differences in parental stress and parent-child relationship between Taiwan and the United States based on racial and cultural differences; (b) identify factors, if any, that influence the parental stress and parent-children relationship; (c) investigate if there are differences in the results of child development when children are diagnosed with autism in these two countries; (d) establish the Battelle Development Inventory-II in Mandarin Chinese version for use of evaluation with development delays in Taiwan. Findings revealed that: (a) the Battelle Developmental Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II), is highly reliable with a great value of internal consistency in the use with parents and children with autism in Taiwan; (b) there is no significant difference in child development and parent-child relationship based on geographic region (Taiwan and the United States); (c) parents of children with autism in the United States overall have a more positive parent-child relationship and parenting attitude than parents of children with autism in Taiwan; (d) Children with autism who have a positive relationship with their parents have a higher pass rate on the evaluation of child development; (e) fathers reported higher pass rate on BDI-II than mothers in one of the standard deviations of over BDI-II performance; (f) parent-child relationships are positively correlated with parental stress; (g) parents who received services and ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Ma, Phoenix S.
Partner: UNT Libraries

College and Career Readiness: Psychosocial Predictors of Achievement and Persistence

Description: Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if traditional indicators of college readiness were better predictors of students’ first semester college GPA and persistence to the second year of coursework compared to non-traditional indicators of college readiness. Specifically, this study analyzed the predictive validity of high school class rank and ACT/SAT scores compared to that of the psychosocial skills measured by the ACT Engage on students’ first semester college GPA and their likelihood of enrollment in the second year of college coursework. Methodology: Linear and logistic regression models were used to examine the effect of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, high school rank, Texas Success Initiative college readiness scores, SAT or ACT scores, and the ten themes of the ACT Engage Inventory (dependent variables), on students’ first semester college GPA and rate of persistence to the second year (independent variables). A sample of 4,379 first semester college freshmen participated in this study. Findings: Results indicated that high school rank, ACT/SAT scores and psychosocial skills measured by the ACT Engage theme academic discipline were accurate predictors of college performance. Results regarding the predictive power of traditional academic and non-traditional psychosocial predictors of persistence were less definitive. Students qualifying for federal financial assistance and female students showed the greatest likelihood of not returning for the second year of college. Research Limitations: One limitation of this study occurred because separate ethnicities were not evaluated as independent variables. Additionally, further research should occur regarding the relationship between the independent variables of gender and socioeconomic status and the dependent variable persistence. Practical Implications: Due to the predictive power of high school class rank, college entrance exam scores, and the psychosocial skill of academic discipline, educators and policy makers should design targeted preparation and support initiatives around improving students’ skills in these areas. Recommendations ...
Date: December 2014
Creator: Hicks, David
Partner: UNT Libraries